By Brady Henderson
Golden Tate languished on the bench as a rookie after falling into the same trap as so many talented receivers, thinking the athleticism that made him a college standout would carry him at the next level.
Golden Tate has led Seattle this year with 64 catches and 898 receiving yards, both of which are career highs. (AP)
"I've got to thank this organization because they were extremely patient with me, a second-round guy and I didn't come in and produce as a rookie at all, really," Tate said Tuesday when he joined "Brock and Danny" on 710 ESPN Seattle.
"Second year, [I] didn't really produce until the last four games and then the third year is kind of when I figured it out someway."
Tate, drafted at the end of the second round in 2010, was a healthy scratch in what would have been his first regular-season game, benched because of what he has characterized as complacency. He caught all of 21 passes in 11 games as a rookie.
This season, his fourth in the NFL, he's led the Seahawks with 64 catches and 898 receiving yards, both career highs. His five touchdown receptions are tied for the most on the team. Not only has he become Seattle's de facto No. 1 receiver in the absences of Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice, but he's also been one of the NFL's better punt returners, finishing second in the league with 585 yards.
It wasn't quite a breakout, but only because that came last year when the steady improvement that he began to show in the second half of the 2011 season began to translate into results.
Tate credits quarterback Russell Wilson – with whom he has become close – for some of his maturation as a player. He's done his part, too.
"I kind of understood what it meant to be a professional. There's more to it then just showing up, jumping up and making pays, which is what I'd been used to my whole life," said Tate, who was voted the nation's top receiver after his final season at Notre Dame.
"I had to take care of my body, I had to study my playbook, I had to spend more time with the quarterback, I had to ice tub, cold tub, I had to do a lot of things that I didn't do prior to being in the NFL."
It's served him well. Tate's growth has put in position for a nice raise when his rookie contract expires at the end of the season. While there's no guarantee that will come from the Seahawks, Tate has expressed his desire to stay put.